Eaten Alive aka Death Trap – USA, 1976 – reviews

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Eaten-Alive-CocodriloEaten Alive is a 1976 American horror film, directed by Tobe Hooper, released in May 1977. It was Hooper’s first directorial assignment after The Texas Chain Saw Masscare. It was filmed as Death Trap and then released under various alternate titles, including Legend of the Bayou, Horror Hotel, Slaughter Hotel and Starlight Slaughter.

Producers Alvin L. Fast and Mardi Rustam (Psychic Killer, Evils of the NightEvil Town) devised the film’s concept and it was largely written by Kim Henkel (The Texas Chain Saw MassacreButcher Boys).

The movie stars Neville Brand, Roberta Collins, Robert Englund (future Freddy Krueger), William Finley, Marilyn Burns, Janus Blythe and Kyle Richards.

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A psychotic redneck who owns a dilapidated hotel in rural East Texas kills various people who upset him or his business, and he feeds their bodies to a large crocodile that he keeps as a pet in the swamp beside his hotel…

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Loosely based on the story of Joe Ball (also known as the Bluebeard from South Texas or the Alligator Man) from Elmendorf, Texas, sometime after Prohibition ended. He owned a bar with an alligator pit serving as an entertainment attraction. Several murders of women ensued, but it was never proven that the flesh found in the pit was human. However, Joe did commit suicide upon possibility of capture.

According to make-up artist Craig Reardon, cinematographer Robert Caramico directed several scenes due to creative differences between Tobe Hooper and the films’ producers. The numerous title changes and differing versions of the film are explained by Death Trap’s box office failure and the fruitless search for a winning formula.

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Death Trap – as it was known in the UK – was one of the so-called ‘video nasties‘ during the early 1980s, although it was never prosecuted for obscenity.
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Reviews:

“Although not as remorseless as its lurid predecessor, the film is far better than its neglect/dismissal would suggest. The scene in which a loveable little girl’s pet dog is swallowed by the crocodile deserves a place in any pantheon of sick cinema.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror, edited by Phil Hardy

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‘Though the film never comes close to matching the intensity and sheer balls-to-the-wall terror that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is so well known for it does have a similarly unseemly atmosphere to it that works really well.’ Ian Jane, DVD Talk

“Eaten Alive is the true transition flick, the moment when a potential horror hero began turning into a fright film flop. But it’s not bad, just baffling. Ignore its obvious flaws and you’ll have a sleazy breezy exploitation experience.” Bill Gibron, DVD Verdict

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